Criminology/ Prisons Don't Work term paper 12468

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Prison's Don't Work

In our society, the dual purpose of imprisonment is punishment and/or rehabilitation. Throughout the states, there is an increased prison population. For example, more than 40 states' prison systems are under court orders to rectify overcrowding. Some prisons have what is called a "zero sum" status. A "zero sum" status basically means if a prison receives a new inmate, it is required to release a current inmate. If prisons are meant to hold criminals and punish them for their actions, why are they being let out due to mathematics?

Prison is thought of, by some, to be a terrible place that people would not want to be. So, why do people continue to break parole and end up back in jail? The rate for re-arrest for state prisoners within three years of release from prison is:

68% for 18-24 year olds

64% for 25-29 year olds

63% for 30-34 year olds

57% for 35-39 year olds

49% for 40-44 year olds

40% for 45- and older

There are prisoners who are released, but they don't return to prison. Yet, the majority of prisoners released do go back to jail.

The rate for re-arrest is so high because criminals think they're not going to get caught or they're so emotionally desperate or psychologically distressed that they don't care about the consequences. This apathetic attitude might not even matter, because around 90% of the men never get out of prison alive.

The really scary part is that younger prisoners are coming out of jail as more accomplished criminals. Young kids are kept in prison to long, and they learn from other criminals. When they are paroled, they are better criminals, and they won't get caught as easily. How is jail working if criminals are being released better at their crimes from when they were first sentenced to imprisonment?

Conservative lawmakers want to try kids as young as thirteen in adult courts, and they are trying to place them in adult prisons. Although juvenile crime has become more pervasive and more violent , it is not fair to lock up young kids with hardened criminals. This will not lower the crime-rate, but just increase the prison population. While in these hardcore prisons, teenagers would be getting a criminal education instead of a real education.

Politicians claim that they support policies that are tough on crime and prisons, but they're not. In "Why Prisons Don't Work", even Rideau said it himself, "If getting tough on crime resulted in public safety, Louisiana citizens would be the safest in the nation. They're not. Louisiana has the highest murder rate among states." Politicians have been saying that they are getting tough on crime to win votes, but in reality, they don't want to let us know how uncontrollable prisons have become.

Instead of putting money into programs such as remedial education, psychiatric counseling, drug treatment, or vocational training, the government would rather put money into prisons. Some prisoners have the luxury of state of the art computers, the convenience of the Internet, and the pleasure of television. While schools are just now getting new computers with access to the Internet, prisoners have already had this pleasure of easy access to state of the art equipment.

Rehabilitation can work, but until prisons do more for rehabilitation prisoners won't change. The convict who enters prison illiterate will probably leave the same way. The rehabilitation programs within the prison are obviously not working if 68% of prisoners, age from 18-24, are being arrested again. That is over half!

To be able to change you must have something to look forward to when you are released. When I was a young child, my best friend's dad was in prison. I was too young to remember the crime or the sentence, but he did have to spend a lot of time in prison. While in prison, he knew that he had a beautiful wife and two wonderful daughters waiting for him at home. He realized that he had to change in order to be with his family again, and he did. He thought about his life, and he thought about their lives. He couldn't bear to think of his wife raising two girls by herself, or of his daughters growing up without a father. He hated the fact that he was missing his children grow up and experience life. He realized he had to grow up and act like an adult. He had to change his way of life in order to live the happy, carefree life that he wanted for himself and his family. However, that is a specific case and one of the minorities. The majority of prisoners don't care what happens to them. Usually they need a shrink, not a jail cell.

In conclusion, I agree with Wilbert Rideau that prisons don't work. There is an increased population in prisons, but not a decrease in crime. Prison is a place for punishment as well as rehabilitation, but felons are being re-arrested and sent back to jail. Young criminals are coming out of jail with better criminal skills than when they were first sentenced to prison. Society has done so much to try to decrease crime rates, but do any of us really feel safe? I guess that's just another one of the paradoxal progresses.


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